Green Your Holiday Gatherings

Green your bubbly!
Hosting a Hanukkah, Christmas, or New Years Eve party can be a daunting undertaking for you - it can also be hard on the environment. If you’re playing host this year consider these tips to help make your festivities earth-friendly.


Party prep.

We all go a little crazy with the housecleaning when we’re anticipating a crowd of guests in our home. Keep in mind that using certain household cleaners can greatly increase the air pollution in your house or apartment, making the air you breathe irritating and even unsafe for your family and guests. Consider using safe, non-toxic cleaning methods and products – this handy guide from our friends at the Center for Health, Environment & Justice can help. Make sure to also properly ventilate with fans and open windows if it’s not too cold outside. Why? Learn more about indoor air pollution.

Serving food? Of course you are. Use your regular dishes and flatware instead of buying paper or plastic. This can dramatically reduce your waste. If you have to use disposables, try biodegradable paper plates and compost them along with your leaves, produce scraps, and coffee grounds. As you’re planning the menu, consider basing it around local and seasonally-available food. Foods that travel across states or around the globe to get to you have high carbon footprints. Check out more holiday food tips here. When you’re sprucing up your home with decorations, reuse last year’s if you still have them. Want to keep it simple and natural? Gourds and pumpkins make excellent and colorful accents, and finding them is easy this time of year. They can usually be purchased at almost any store, including your local farmer’s market. Plus, they’re decorations that can be composted – and sometimes eaten – once you’re done with them.


During the party.

Saving energy on home lighting isn’t just for regular use overhead lights and floor lamps anymore. There’s even environmentally-friendly holiday lighting! LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes, are available for both indoor and outdoor decorative lighting. LED lights are cooler to the touch, last 10 times longer (some come with a guaranteed 50,000 hour bulb life or a lifetime warranty), and they use 80% less energy than your standard string lights. Consider LED flickering lights to inspire a cozier feel.

Help your guests contribute to the green effort by providing clearly marked trash receptacles for different types of party waste – paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, food scraps, liquids, etc.


Clean up.

After the guests have left, you’re faced with the daunting task of throwing out food scraps, packaging up leftovers, and cleaning up piles of dishes. Even this part of the day can be environmentally-friendly! Much of your food waste can be composted in an indoor composting bin – just combine your veggie scraps, produce peels, coffee grounds, teabags and more with some of the autumn leaves you’ve been raking up, and you’ll have an excellent foundation for nutrient-rich soil. Be careful not to put any meat or bones in your compost pile. Save those items for leftover sandwiches, soups and stews.

And finally, relax – you don’t have to worry about hand washing your dishes! Using a dishwasher is actually more environmentally-friendly than washing each dish by hand. You’ll use much less soap and about 80% less water. If you rented the linens or plates for a formal party, send them back dirty. Rental companies are required to wash the items upon return, so there’s no need to wash them before you send them back.

What are your own ideas for going green during the holidays? Share your tips with us -- we  may feature you here! Contact us at [email protected] or use our comment section below.

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jeanine

thanks for these great tips. it's so hard to figure out how to enjoy the holidays and keep things fun for everyone, while still going green and trying to help the planet.

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